The ugly duckling – A short story

She was beautiful. At least that’s what her parents always told her. She did not have sharp features or great skin or lovely tresses that most of the girls she knew had. But she had an amazing smile, the one that made her look the prettiest despite all the flaws. But she hardly ever wore her smile with confidence.

She hated to even look at beauty magazines, since they were always filled with dozens of photographs of girls who were divinely gorgeous. The inferiority complex in her started growing with age. Time passed. She was a successful working woman. But, the complex still instilled in her. And it got stronger day by day.

With time, she became one of the most influential persons in her field. She became the face of many leading magazines. To her amazement, one of them was a beauty magazine, which published a gorgeous photo of her with her killer smile and listed her as one of the greatest women achievers of all times. Her definition of beauty changed forever. She became the beautiful swan from the ugly duckling she thought she was. But most importantly, she understood, that “Every woman is beautiful, in her own way”!!

Toner – The muted hero in skincare

When we talk about skincare routine in adults, we know how important it is to daily cleanse your skin at-least twice everyday, once in the morning and once at night. Hydrating the skin is also very important, with tons of options available in the form of face creams and moisturizers. Toning is the intermediate step in the skincare routine, but from my personal experience, and also seeing the daily skincare regimen of many friends and family members, I believe we generally don’t give this step the importance it deserves.

Well, now I believe that toning is the most important step of daily skincare regime. Out of the steps in the CTM (Cleansing, Toning, Moisturizing) routine, this is one step which I’ve ignored throughout my life. And the day I started following this step, there was never looking back.

Recently, there has been a lot of information shared on the internet about the benefits of Korean skincare. I got to know more about toning through the Korean skincare routine itself. Toning is one of the important rituals in their skincare routine. Koreans follow a ten step night-time skincare regime, which includes Oil Cleanser, Foam Cleanser, Exfoliating, Toner, Essence, Ampoule, Serum, Sheet Mask, Eye Cream and Moisturizer. I don’t follow the ten step process, as it is time-consuming and I get rather demotivated to follow such a long skincare routine every night, but, using the toner and letting it get soaked in the skin did do wonders to my skin.

With time, I’ve started seeing visible differences to the open pores in my skin. The pores have visibly reduced over time and have helped me in attaining a clearer skin. Also, adding a moisturizer with sunscreen in the daytime post the toning process hydrates the skin beautifully. It is very important to follow a proper skincare routine, especially at night time as it is said that the skin repairs itself the most when we sleep. So, it is best to not skip any step at night time.

Another product which I started using and have seen visibly striking results with is the Faceshop Aloe Vera Gel. I use this in the night-time skincare routine. After the toning process is done, I apply generous amount of Aloe Vera Gel, and wake up with a beautifully hydrated and most importantly, glassy skin in the morning. The skin looks really refreshed and glowing.

Here are the affiliate links to Korean skincare products (from the brand The Face Shop) that I use in the skincare regime every day and night:

Toner:
https://amzn.to/2GNbYuJ

Aloe Vera Gel:
https://amzn.to/2U9X0lC

Skincare is as important for us as taking care of the rest of the body is. So, 5-10 minutes is all we need to spend on it every day and night for a flawless looking gorgeous skin.

“Your skin is your best accessory. Take good care of it” –Unknown

Adios Amigos

R-E-A-C-T-I-O-N

Reaction, it’s just an eight letter word, but has the power to destroy big relationships, be it between people or be it between the strongest of nations.

It has become so common to see communication between people these days, where both the parties do not listen to understand, but rather, listen to react. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to be heard.

Well, it’s good also, in the sense that everybody should be able to voice their opinion, but bad as well, because we fail to understand the fact that their is a perspective to every opinion. Both the parties could be correct based on their own perspective to a particular situation.

It is said that people from the older generations had better patience levels. But I think it was more about respecting each other’s viewpoints rather than the patience levels.

It has become very important for us to understand that for a successful and healthy relationship, it’s not that one person has to kill his/her viewpoint. But rather, it takes both the persons to listen to each other, to understand each other’s perspectives, and then decide to tackle the situation. And this holds true for any case, between friends, between husband and wife, family members, and even between parent and child (I believe even toddlers can have a strong and valid perspective in many cases).

If we react without thinking, then the same situation takes an ugly form, wherein a vicious circle of complaints starts from both the ends, which only leads to frustration and depression.

So, the next time any of you get to a point where you have a lot to say, well, instead of first trying to give your viewpoint, ask the other person about their perspective, then think and then reply. You will thank yourself for doing that!!

Adios amigos

Reflection: Down the memory lane

As she sat quietly, taking out each crayon, admiring the color and beautifully using it on her little canvas, creating her mini masterpiece, she forgot that she didn’t talk to me for almost an hour. Sitting beside the window, having soaked up the much needed Vitamin D of the day, my daughter made me fall in love with her again.

 

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I traveled back to the time when I was a little kid just like her, crazy about the subjects I loved the most, mathematics, science and drawing. Cursive writing was another thing that always fascinated me. I would forget about everything, hours altogether, just lost in my own beautiful world. Yes, some of us do enjoy being nerds I guess!!

There was a fire inside, to continue to be in the class toppers, year after year, giving my best in each n every exam. I saw the same fire inside her today. In a different form, in a different shape, but, the one which can take us places in life. It was the most beautiful moment for me as a mother.

It is really strange that the same fire, or rather the desire, keeps blurring within us with time. The desire which makes us run for the best, for the future which we want to have an amazing shape. As we grow old, we keep on killing it, yes, we are responsible for killing that day by day. It takes just a moment of realization to ignite it, and, we can actually move mountains again!!

Some moments are really precious in life, and this, this particular moment, is the one I’ll always remember. I found her, just like me, lost in her own world , with her canvas and her colors, creating another of her beautiful masterpieces. Some reflections are truly nostalgic.

Adios amigos

Let’s break the mold – Redefining gender roles

There are labels, that a society puts on us according to the gender. She’s a girl. She should know how to cook. He’s a boy. He has to find a good job to provide for his family.

Then there is another set of people who don’t believe in gender discrimination. “We’ve raised our daughter like a son. She can’t cook. So if we get her married, she will not cook. We have raised her to be a strong independent woman, capable of taking care of herself and her finances as well. So why should she be confined to the kitchen.” On the other hand, at the boys side, “we believe in gender equality. So, we want to marry our son to a professionally sound girl. But, she should not forget that she has to balance the professional and household responsibilities.”

In all the situations, we forget that the real issue is not who will cook or who will look after the house or who will earn for the family. The real question is why not anyone and everyone!!

Just the way we teach the kids all the basic subjects in school, like science, mathematics, languages etc, making them ready to take over the world, in the same way, the basic skill of Home Management also needs to be taught. And it has to be introduced at some level in our educational system. Once a child moves out, away from home, to pursue higher studies or to pursue a career, he/she should be capable enough to take care of himself/herself. Starting from how to keep his/her room or home tidy and organized, to cooking up a basic meal. These are the things that each n every person, whether boy or girl, should definitely know in life.

Gone are the days when a boy and girl had defined tasks or responsibilities, and also, gone are the days, when, on the name of gender equality, we raised daughters who were toppers in their schools and colleges, but struggled to always keep on striking a balance in life once they got married or had children. Their physical and mental health were affected due to the super women they were transformed into. We all know that the more frustrated the lady of the house becomes, the more issues are seen among the members of the entire family.

It is high time that we understand that we need a stronger base to be formed in our educational institutions (schools & colleges), teaching us the most important subject “Home management”, so that the future sons don’t get married to look for a maid or housekeeper and the future daughters don’t look for someone who just earns for the family. After all, there’s much more fun in cooking together as a family and also, earning together to build a home sweet home. It’s time to break the mold and give it an entire new definition!! Until then.

Adios Amigos

Product Review – Spice Rack

I am a complete home organization freak. The moment I see clutter in my house, I literally go crazy. But I’ve made peace with it now, since I have a kid who is exploring each n every corner of our house!!

Cooking is one of the stress-busters for me. The aroma of spices just makes me smile. And when the prepared dishes turn out awesome, my day is made!! Kitchen is the place where I can literally sleep. So, obviously, I need my kitchen items to be perfectly organized. I am still juggling with some of them, but I can definitely say that spices in my kitchen are now sorted, that too with an extra edge!!

Being an Indian, there is a numerous variety of spices we use in day-to-day cooking, like, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, coriander seeds, cardamom, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, etc etc. The list is endless. Apart from this, I also love exploring and playing with different herbs like oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme etc. So, the spices in my kitchen needed an organizer which could not only fit in this huge variety, but also add a little sparkle to my kitchen.

Well, the hunt started. And I stumbled upon hundreds of different organizers. I didn’t want the wall mountable ones, so the research narrowed down to the stackable or tower organizers. To be honest, initially I had thought of ordering the revolving tower organizer, since my mom and sister use the same. But, I kept looking for something different.

And after some more research, there I was. Tada!! The Kamenstein Criss-Cross 18-Jar Bamboo Countertop Spice Rack Organizer. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. It had enough spice jar bottles that I need on my countertop (I store some inside the drawer as well) and it looked really attractive. The bonus was that it came with pre-existing spices. Plus they give free spice refills for 5 years (which I am not sure I’ll be going to use or not). But the variety of spices they offer is great. I am now playing with a lot of herbs now, which I wouldn’t have bought any day otherwise. This is how it looks in my kitchen.

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The glass bottles are of pretty good quality and size. The shaker openings are decently large enough. The lids closure has never been a problem. I have refilled some spices from the rack with the ones that I use more often. I have used new round labels and they also stick perfectly on the bottles. This rack can fit different brands of standard round and square spice glass bottles like McCormic, Spice Islands, Trader Joe’s bottles etc, so its easy to reuse in case you lose or break the existing jar. Also, the rack is wall mountable, so its an added bonus for those who want it.

Last, but not the least, the bamboo adds a different element to the kitchen. It looks really stylish yet conservative. Overall, five stars to this product. Here is the link to the product:

https://www.amazon.com/Kamenstein-5085178-Criss-Cross-Countertop-Organizer/dp/B005PP2LCU/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

I have purchased this product from amazon and am really happy with it.

Adios amigos.

The day the earth stood still – A tiny tale

“I love you”, he said. She blushed. He smiled. Love was in the air. Sparks were flying. When suddenly, Kabir feels a pat on his face. “Stop daydreaming, you moron!! Go and say it to her before she leaves.”, said his friend Roy.

She was standing outside the cafe. Kabir rushed towards her, but something stopped him. A very handsome man came towards Ayesha and hugged her tightly. He gave her a kiss on the forehead and hugged her tightly again. Kabir knew it was over.

Time flew by. Two years later, Kabir went to attend a wedding function with his wife. Suddenly his gaze got fixed on someone.

Yes. It was Ayesha. She was still the same. Beautiful and full of life. Their eyes met. She came towards him. But, the same old handsome man appeared again and hugged Ayesha. “This is Kabir, my classmate. And Kabir, that’s my elder brother. Good to see you. Bye!”, says Ayesha. Kabir was speechless!!

He stood there feeling like a fool when Ayesha and her brother turned around to go. But then, Kabir unknowingly overheard their conversation.

Brother: Ayesha, isn’t he the guy you always had crush on? You could never gather the courage to tell him in college. Why didn’t you tell him today?

Ayesha: Forget it brother. I got to know from a friend that he’s married now.

That day, at that very moment, the earth stood still for Kabir!!

New Year Resolution 2019

 

It’s the time of the year once again when everyone is posting about their new year resolutions. And it made me think hard about what mine should be. Well, I was ready with a long list, but then I realized there are lists that are made every year, which are also forgotten by the end of the year. Then again a new list is made, and the cycle continues. So what’s the whole point of new year resolutions?

If I think deeply, the list is almost always the same for many people every year (for example, losing weight, regular exercise, yoga, pursuing a hobby, eating healthy etc etc etc). But if we notice carefully, there is only one missing link here. That missing link is ROUTINE. We all set goals, but don’t stick to those goals.

The funny thing is that we give up on them one by one, and we don’t even realize when that happened. So, that explains the importance of the fact that sticking to a routine is what matters.

And that’s how my New Year’s resolution got its form this year. Sticking to my routine, not giving up on my goals. Be it fitness, be it skincare, be it blogging or be it healthy eating. Yes, there can be few misses here and there, but what matters the most is coming back fast. Happy New Year to all the beautiful people. Till then.

Adios Amigos

The fitness journal

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It all started as a joke between me and my sister, the 30 days fitness challenge (actually, #30dayfitnesschallenge as I love to call it), but it has become an important part of our daily routine now. We had put on some weight in the last few months, so this is how it all began. It has been few days, but I have already started feeling the difference it has made to my body and mind.

The benefits of working out are known to everyone, so I won’t go over them, but here’s my bit for all the people who give up continuing the routine, especially the stay-at-home-mommies. Since I was in the same phase, I couldn’t even think of going to the gym. So, doing workout at home was the only option.

I researched a lot before starting my journey, watched a lot of videos on the internet and finally bookmarked what would work for me.

The most important step was maintaining a journal. Noting down what exercises I did each day and for how long or for how many repetitions of each. This simple buy (small notepad) from dollar store has proven to be a life changer for me!! With each passing day, I am getting better and better. My stamina has improved and I try to push my limits every time. There were few no workout days as well, but the journal inspires me to start again. Keep the journal at an approachable place, I usually keep it by my bedside so that I check it every night and every morning. Just browsing through the pages gives me a push to start the day’s fitness hour. I am sharing a snippet of my journal in the picture.

We women tend to ignore our health as we become mothers. But I think that’s the best gift we can give ourselves and our families if we can maintain our health.

The move from Pune to California was very big for us. Being a Punjabi, our life literally revolves around food. The conversations start from food and end on food too. So, the move made sure that we gobbled up everything on our favorite list in India, since we were gonna miss that in California. And after coming to California, we were overwhelmed by the variety of food that this state has to offer. So, of course few more extra pounds got welcomed on our bodies. But I’ve realized that maintaining good health shouldn’t be a priority, it should be a part of life, part of daily routine.

Journaling has become a lifestyle for me now, as being fit is. I will be sharing my workout videos/posts in the coming weeks. So, get up, get going and push your limits. And write it down too. Give yourself the journal inspiration. Till then.

Adios amigos.

The famous Indian curry paste

This is the most versatile curry paste used across many Indian dishes. The smell of onion, ginger and garlic is hard to resist at almost every other Indian household. The sprinkling of dried masala powder along with turmeric lends a fresh aromatic flavor to any Indian dish!!

But then, preparing this takes time. Sometimes, when we are having time crunch, because of office work, deadlines or if we have small kids at home who just demand our time and attention, then it becomes difficult to prepare everything from scratch. So we look for other options like instant noodles or ordering something from a restaurant. While sometimes this is doable, but not too frequently.

That time this pre-prepared curry paste comes to your rescue. Prepare a batch over the weekend as per your requirement and use it across the week two-three times as per the quantity.

Most of the Indian ladies would find this post too simple to share, but those who have never tried it and are looking for such alternatives should definitely give it a go.

 

******       INGREDIENTS       ******

Onions (Big) – 2 1/2 (otherwise take 4-5 if using medium sized ones)

Garlic cloves – 7-8

Ginger – 2 inch piece

Green chilies – 3 (or as per spice level)

Tomatoes – 4-5 (medium sized)

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – To taste

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Garam masala powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric – 1 tsp

 

******       METHOD       ******

Start by adding oil to a skillet. Add green chilies, roughly chopped ginger and garlic. Sauté till they turn light brown. Add in the onions, and sauté for 5-10 minutes, till the onions start turning light brown. Add salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder (you can prepare at home or use the readymade garam masala). Sauté for 5-7 more minutes. Then add chopped tomatoes to the mixture. Sauté for 5-10 minutes more. Turn off the stove.

Let me mixture cool down. Once cooled, make a fine paste of this mixture in a blender/mixer. Sauté this curry paste in the same skillet for 15-20 minutes or till the oil separates from the gravy. Once oil separates, turn off the stove, cool the curry paste and store it in the refrigerator and use through the week, this can suffice 2-3 gravies/curries.

You can now use this paste to prepare chickpeas, black chana and kidney beans  as well. This can also be used as a base for watery curry (matar paneer, aaloo matar etc) or cream based gravy (paneer makhani, butter chicken etc).

So go ahead ladies and give it a try. Trust me, with work pressure and also kids at home, this will definitely turn out to be a savior!! Till then.

Adios Amigos